Tag Archives: groups

Marches by rival groups lead to clashes; 3 people arrested

Marches by rival groups lead to clashes; 3 people arrestedCompeting demonstrations spilled into the streets of downtown Portland on Saturday, with fights breaking out in places as marchers clashed. At least three groups had planned rallies or demonstrations at different sites in the city, including members of the so-called Proud Boys and anti-fascist groups that include “antifa,” and the fights occurred when participants of the opposing groups met, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive . In a statement Saturday night, the Portland Police Bureau said three people were arrested on assault and harassment charges in connection with the protests.



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How armed vigilante groups are detaining migrants on US-Mexico border

How armed vigilante groups are detaining migrants on US-Mexico borderThe camera panned across dozens of faces, exhausted migrants crouched in the New Mexico night, fenced in by armed civilians. The woman filming issued a stern warning."Don't aim the gun," she called out to a member of the group off-screen, before she commented about how many children were in the group being "detained". The 16 April video of armed civilians holding migrants tore across social media and news outlets amid concerns by the American Civil Liberties Union that the actions of the United Constitutional Patriots amounted to armed kidnapping and coercion. The video and the stories that followed prompted stern denunciation from the state's governor and rights groups.The elements of that video and others are fuelling inquiry over the legal grey areas in which self-described militias can operate.That activity has placed armed civilians within feet of federal immigration agents at night in wild shrub land, with migrants caught in the middle, confused about who has actual authority on the border and what their rights are on US soil.[gallery-0] "Menacing or threatening migrant families and asylum seekers is absolutely unacceptable and must cease," New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said after the ACLU brought the video to light, calling the group's activities "completely unacceptable".The men in these videos wear military-style uniforms, surround migrants with rifles and issue commands to stop and sit. One member can be seen walking in front of the camera with an AR-15 rifle.In at least one video that has since been restricted, the group yells "Policia, alto!" – Police, stop! – at migrants, BuzzFeed News reported. In another, "a member of the militia is heard yelling in Spanish, 'Pistola, pistola' – gun, gun – at a group of people moments after they crossed the border at night," Buzzfeed wrote.Photos show the men wearing police-style star badges.In the April 16 video, Customs and Border Protection agents arrive and collect migrants but do not ask the group with guns to disperse or take their weapons elsewhere."Border Patrol has never asked us to stand down," Jim Benvie, a group spokesman, told the New York Times in a story published on 18 April.Benvie did not reply to multiple requests for an interview for this story, but he has been active on Facebook, and described his group's motivation for their actions in two videos on Tuesday night."We are simply there because President [Donald] Trump declared a national emergency on the border we came down to find out what that emergency is," Benvie says. "We are sitting here right now and we're doing what we need to do."Experts say the legal world these groups exist in is murky. What is the status of this group? Is it a militia? Is its actions protected by the constitution, or does the conduct rise to the level of kidnapping or impersonating law enforcement?"Militia is a term used in a rather fluid manner," said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University. "It's loosely defined as an armed group engaged in some paramilitary operation."The Supreme Court has ruled it is an individual right to bear arms, Turley said, and if the members lawfully assemble without trespassing, they can exist in the ways neighbourhood patrols do – albeit armed with AR-15 rifles."In some ways these groups are George Zimmerman on steroids," Turley said, referring to the man who followed and killed Trayvon Martin and was exonerated on Florida's stand-your-ground, self-defence law.According to the group's Facebook page, its objective is to "uphold the Constitution of the United States of America" and to protect citizens' rights "against all enemies both foreign and domestic" – phrasing that mimics the oath taken by US service members.Dave Kopel, an adjunct professor constitutional law at Denver University, explained that in the American Revolution, militias were auxiliary forces that supplemented Continental troops across swaths of territory where an army presence was not always possible. Militias were crucial in raids and harassment campaigns against British soldiers.Now, organised militias are National Guard units and some state guard groups, he said. All able-bodied men between 17 and 45 years old are members of an organised militia subject to mobilisation, according to US law.The difference between those groups and the organisation at the border, Kopel explained, is a matter of oversight. Governors command National Guard troops. Presidents can activate them for federal service.It is legal to carry firearms openly in New Mexico, and there is not a law banning the use of military-style uniforms, although Turley said some behaviour could catch the eye of prosecutors.Most attorneys rely on explicit statements of misrepresenting oneself as law enforcement, but wearing police-style badges may get group members "dangerously close to the line of impersonating an officer."The group has sought to distance itself from the appearance of coercion, with Benvie calling their activities "a verbal citizen's arrest" and suggesting that their activity is not actual detainment."We can't make them stay if they don't want to," Benvie told the New York Times.Still, Turley said, confusion may reign on the border when militiamen emerge from the dark with weapons drawn. "It's very likely they view these militia members to be law enforcement," he said.Benvie told the paper the members were instructed not to point weapons and that military-style rifles were no longer permitted on patrols, though handguns were permissible. The 16 April video shows rifles in the hands of group members.New Mexico has no statute on citizen's arrest, Alan Malott, a since-retired judge of the 2nd Judicial District Court in New Mexico, wrote in 2011, saying people can arrest private citizens who they believe "committed a felony-level crime or a breach of the peace in his presence".In a statement on Twitter, CBP said it "does not endorse or condone private groups or organisations taking enforcement matters into their own hands. Interference by civilians in law enforcement matters could have public safety and legal consequences for all parties involved." It followed that tweet with phone numbers to call "if a member of the community witnesses or suspects illegal activity".Carlos Diaz, CBP spokesman, declined to comment on what was shown in the videos, which appear to have shown armed civilians alongside Border Patrol agents.Benvie did not respond to multiple requests for an interview, but he has shared several videos on his Facebook page over the past week, explaining the group's actions and their motivations."We have repeated time and time and time again this is not a militia," Benvie said onTuesday. "This is not an armed vigilante group. This is not the KKK. This is not a terrorist organisation."If we did anything wrong, if there had ever been anything wrong, not only would those videos have not been done live but the Border Patrol would have immediately acted," Benvie said. "They don't want civilians to enforce the law.""However," he continues, "if you read the second part of their statement they do encourage citizens to observe and report illegal activity relating to immigration, and they do welcome that they they've even posted the phone number, OK? So the point I'm trying to tell you is, is that 'observing and reporting' more or less is what we've been doing."The United Constitutional Patriots' leader, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, appeared in court Monday on charges from 2017 of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. The FBI also contends his group was training for assassinations against liberal politicians and donors.Hopkins, who goes by the pseudonym Johnny Horton and is referred to within the group as "Striker," was arrested and accused of impersonating a law enforcement officer in 2006."This is a dangerous felon who should not have weapons around children and families," Hector Balderas, the state attorney general, said in a statement after Hopkins's arrest. Balderas said the arrest "indicates clearly that the rule of law should be in the hands of trained law enforcement officials, not vigilantes."A letter sent by the New Mexico chapter of the ACLU asked Balderas to investigate the group. "We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum," it said.Benvie has said his group was welcomed by local law enforcement and said police were "happy we were there." However, the group's outpost in New Mexico was abandoned amid pressure from law enforcement, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.Sunland Police Chief Javier Guerra said it would take action if group members pointed weapons at migrants."We can arrest them for assault," Guerra said, AP reported.But in the 16 April video, the woman narrating the incident sought more a more influential audience."Donald Trump needs to see this," she said.Washington Post



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Dem Groups Want to Make Kirstjen Nielsen a Post-Trump Pariah

Dem Groups Want to Make Kirstjen Nielsen a Post-Trump PariahAlex WongHomeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen may have been pushed out of her job by the president over the weekend. But a coalition of progressive groups now want to ensure that she finds no comfy landing in her career after Trump. The groups are readying a plan to shame any major news networks or large corporation that hires the soon-to-be former DHS Secretary, contending that her involvement in the Trump administration’s family separation policy inherently disqualifies her from a plum gig in the private sector. “If a corporation or university or speaking agency is going to bring her on board, there will be a significant reputational risk associated with that decision,” Karl Frisch, a spokesperson for the liberal advocacy group Restore Public Trust told The Daily Beast. “Ultimately her great moral failing irreparably harmed and traumatized thousands of families seeking help in the United States. She facilitated that, she helped plan it, she helped execute it and she defended it.” The decision to go after Nielsen—as well as other administration officials—even after her tenure has ended shows not only how detested a figure she became among progressives, but also the degree to which political advocacy now includes campaigns to influence private sector behavior. Nielsen knows this all too well. In June 2018, she was jeered by protesters as she ate at a Washington, D.C.-based Mexican restaurant.Prior to Nielsen’s resignation, Restore Public Trust and nearly 40 immigration and progressive advocacy groups had formed a coalition to implore corporate leaders to avoid hiring a slew of Trump officials involved in implementing the family separation policy including Nielsen, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Over the weekend, the group sent a letter to Fortune 500 CEOs listing all the names of the individuals they hoped would be blacklisted from hiring. That was followed by an ad bearing a similar message in The New York Times on Sunday, featuring a red Make America Great Again hat with the words “Put Kids In Cages.”“Any senior administration official who leaves and thinks that they can cash in after being a part of this horrific policy has another thing coming in,” Frisch said. “We are sounding the alarm now.” The coalition hopes that by drawing continued attention to the family separation policy and those who helped implement it, they can mobilize employees of corporations and potentially major news networks to refuse to hire those individuals most closely associated with the policy.It’s a strategy born from the realization that even those government officials associated with deeply controversial policies often get plum gigs once they enter the private sector. It’s also an idea that is built on some past successes. Last summer, employees of Salesforce wrote a letter to the company’s CEO Marc Benioff urging him to reconsider company ties with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He declined to do so but said that their technology was not being used for family separation. There was a similar outcry when Sarah Isgur, the former top communications aide for Sessions, was hired as a politics editor at CNN. That led to assurances from the network that she would have no involvement in actual politics coverage, town halls with Democratic presidential candidates, or the debate CNN is hosting this summer. Isgur ultimately said that she would be taking a role as political analyst instead. Media monitors like Sleeping Giants, who led campaigns against advertisers on Tucker Carlson’s primetime Fox News show, are also keeping a close watch on Nielsen’s possible media bookings or potential signings as a contributor. The organization told The Daily Beast that they will observe the unfolding situation and develop an official plan should more news develop. And American Oversight, a progressive investigative organization, said it would continue its research into Nielsen’s role in the president’s family separation policy even though she was no longer part of the administration. While some groups will remain focused on Nielsen even as she leaves the public sector, other organizations said their efforts will shift to the remainder of DHS and the nominee to replace her. An official with CREDO, a mobile advocacy group, said it was poised to launch an aggressive pushback on the person chosen to fill Nielsen’s role, should the president choose someone from the list of names he’s rumored to be considering. “The names being floated so far are troubling — the next person to take this job needs to unequivocally denounce Trump's family separation policy,” Josh Nelson, co-director of CREDO told The Daily Beast. That has also been an early stipulation of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, many of whom had called for Nielsen’s resignation before this weekend. “I will not support a nominee who does not forcefully and unequivocally denounce this administration’s policy of separating families at the border,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said on Monday. “The next Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security must be committed to reuniting families and protecting the human rights of those seeking asylum. Cruelty is not a substitute for a smart, lawful, and humane immigration policy. The American people deserve better.”Read more at The Daily Beast.



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Venezuela: Maduro calls on armed groups to keep order amid electricity rationing

Venezuela: Maduro calls on armed groups to keep order amid electricity rationingPresident announces 30-day rationing plan and says pro-government
colectivos must ‘defend the peace of every block’ Nicolás Maduro said: ‘We are facing a group of monsters who want to destroy Venezuela.’ Photograph: AFP/Getty Images Venezuela’s authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro has called on armed pro-government groups to help subdue unrest as he announced a 30-day electricity rationing plan set to inflict further pain on the population. In a televised address, Maduro said he had no choice but to take drastic measures while his government rebuilt key sections of Venezuela’s national grid following a succession of crippling power failures since 7 March. Experts and Maduro’s political opponents say the repeated collapse of Venezuela’s electricity system – which has left millions without light or water – is a consequence of years of neglect, corruption and incompetence. But in his late-night appearance Maduro repeated the Socialist party line that Venezuela had suffered a series of “brutish attacks” masterminded by his political opponents and their supporters in the White House. “We are facing a group of monsters who want to destroy Venezuela,” Maduro said, claiming their aim was to topple his government by “making the people and the country go mad”. Amid growing fears that Venezuela’s crisis could be moving into a violent new phase, Maduro instructed “revolutionary and patriotic” government supporters and armed pro-government gangs known as
colectivos to mobilize “to defend the peace of every
barrio, of every block”. “They will not take away our peace,” Maduro vowed. Last week Maduro’s second-in-command, Diosdado Cabello, appeared in a menacing video flanked by dozens of masked men and women who he referred to as “peace defenders” but who many fear have been tasked with violently repressing dissent. There were signs on Sunday that such groups had begun responding to the government’s calls. As further blackouts struck Venezuela and citizens took to the streets to protest, photographs and videos circulated appearing to show armed men confronting demonstrators in the capital, Caracas. Two protesters were reported to have been shot after burning blockades were set up in streets near the presidential palace. “We’re here fighting for water and power, we’ve gone twenty-some days without water,” Yofre Gamez, 32, told Reuters as shots rang out. In the western state of Zulia, perhaps the worst affected by the electricity crisis, opposition leaders claimed a 70-year-old woman had been shot dead by members of one
colectivo during a protest. Footage also circulated on social media that appeared to show paramilitaries and police special forces searching a housing estate for protesters in Barquisimeto, Venezuela’s fourth largest city. Maduro’s challenger, Juan Guaidó, claimed such paramilitary groups were trying – but failing – to suppress popular opposition to Hugo Chávez’s successor, who has led Venezuela into economic crisis. “We must stay strong and stay in the streets,” tweeted Guaidó, who most western governments have recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate leader. The Venezuelan human rights group Provea said Maduro’s so-called “peace squads” were actually paramilitary gangs tasked with spreading violence and shooting protesters. “Maduro’s peace means violence against the people,” Provea said. As Venezuelans braced for weeks of hardship and uncertainty, Maduro urged them to have faith in his government – and in God. “God must accompany us with his blessings in this, the most difficult of battles that we must face,” Maduro said, before being applauded by senior political and military leaders.



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France to ban 'yellow vest' protests if violent groups take part: PM

France to ban 'yellow vest' protests if violent groups take part: PMFrance’s prime minister said Paris’s police chief had been sacked and that the government would shut down “yellow vest” protests if violent groups were identified among the ranks of “yellow vest” protesters. President Emmanuel Macron and his government have been forced back on the defensive after rioters ransacked luxury boutiques and torched cafes and a bank on Saturday in the latest flare-up of violence against Macron’s pro-business reforms. “From next Saturday, we will ban ‘yellow vest’ protests in neighborhoods that have been the worst hit as soon as we see sign of the presence of radical groups and their intent to cause damage,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in a televised speech.



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In call with Pakistan's Khan, UK's May urges action on terrorist groups

In call with Pakistan's Khan, UK's May urges action on terrorist groupsBritish Prime Minister Theresa May emphasized the importance of Pakistan taking action against all terrorist groups in a call with Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday, May’s office said. India and Pakistan came to the brink of war this week as tensions escalated following a suicide car bombing that killed at least 40 Indian paramilitary police in Indian-controlled Kashmir. India accusing Pakistan of harboring the Jaish-e Mohammad group behind the attack, which Islamabad denied.



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Pakistan bans groups linked to Mumbai attack suspects

Pakistan bans groups linked to Mumbai attack suspectsPakistan on Thursday banned two groups believed to be fronts for the group blamed for the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, amid heightened pressure on Islamabad to act against militants. Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation were designated “proscribed organisations”, the interior ministry said in a statement, adding that Prime Minister Imran Khan had ordered officials to accelerate action against banned groups. JuD and FIF are considered by the UN to be fronts for Lashkar-e-Taiba, a group accused by Washington and New Delhi of carrying out the Mumbai attack, which killed 166 people and brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.



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As Vatican meets on sex abuse, Pope must defrock Guam's Apuron, groups say

As Vatican meets on sex abuse, Pope must defrock Guam's Apuron, groups sayArchbishop Anthony S. Apuron was found guilty of 'certain accusations' of crimes related to the sexual abuse of minors. He has appealed the ruling.



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U.S. sends first families to Mexico to await asylum, rights groups sue

U.S. sends first families to Mexico to await asylum, rights groups sueFive families with a total of 16 people, including children from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, arrived in the Mexican border city of Tijuana on Wednesday, according to a person who works in migration for the Mexican government, who asked not to be named. In late January, the United States began sending non-Mexican migrants who had crossed at the U.S. border with Mexico back to Mexico to wait as their asylum requests are processed, a program called Migrant Protection Protocols. Rights groups say the program endangers asylum seekers by forcing them to remain in regions of Mexico experiencing record levels of violence.



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U.S. sends first families to Mexico to await asylum, rights groups sue

U.S. sends first families to Mexico to await asylum, rights groups sueFive families with a total of 16 people, including children from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, arrived in the Mexican border city of Tijuana on Wednesday, according to a person who works in migration for the Mexican government, who asked not to be named. In late January, the United States began sending non-Mexican migrants who had crossed at the U.S. border with Mexico back to Mexico to wait as their asylum requests are processed, a program called Migrant Protection Protocols. Rights groups say the program endangers asylum seekers by forcing them to remain in regions of Mexico experiencing record levels of violence.



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